The claim: The U.S. is doing more coronavirus testing than South Korea
President Donald Trump has been touting a key metric in recent days to highlight the speed with which the nation is ramping up its testing for coronavirus. The U.S., Trump has said, is now outstripping South Korea.
But in making the claim, Trump overlooks a huge piece of context: The United States population is more than six times the size of South Korea's. On a per capita basis, South Korea is testing far more of its citizens than the U.S.
"We kept hearing about South Korea," Trump said during his daily White House on Tuesday. "In eight days, we're doing more testing than they've done in eight weeks. That's a tremendous turn."
The president reinforced the idea in a tweet on Wednesday: "Just reported that the United States has done far more 'testing' than any other nation, by far! In fact, over an eight day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea (which has been a very successful tester) does over an eight week span. Great job!"
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U.S. government isn't counting tests
Trump is under enormous pressure over the availability of tests, and leaders both in Washington and around the world have held up South Korea as a benchmark country for comparison because of its rapid deployment of the tests.
There is no "official" U.S. government count of testing. Trump administration officials have said that's partly because they didn't want to slow down availability of the test by imposing uniform reporting requirements.
But the COVID Tracking Project website is collecting data from state and local governments and appears to be one of the more reliable sources in the nation on testing data.
The site has counted 367,710 coronavirus tests administered in the U.S. as of Wednesday. South Korea, by comparison, has conducted 357,896 tests, according to public health officials there. Assuming those numbers are accurate, the U.S. has exceeded South Korea in terms of raw tests.
Raw data versus per capita
But the huge difference in population adds an important piece of context to those figures.
That means South Korea has tested roughly one in every 144 of its residents. In the U.S. the per capita testing rate is closer to one in every 900 residents.
Our ruling: Partly false
We rate the claim that the U.S. has tested more than South Korea as PARTLY FALSE, based on our research. The number of raw tests performed in the U.S. does exceed South Korea. But the percentage of population that has been tested is far greater in the Asian nation compared to the U.S.
Our fact-check sources:
President Donald Trump on Twitter
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Is U.S. doing more COVID-19 testing than South Korea?